No longer just for chatting, WeChat will soon become a financial service platform

WeChat users use the app to buy items from a vending machine in Beijing. WeChat’s e-commerce capabilities have expanded the past year. Photo: SCMP Pictures

WeChat has already met success in China as the country’s most popular mobile messaging app, but the Tencent-owned service will soon expand its reach beyond the realm of smartphone communication to become a financial service platform.

A savings investment system will be implemented into WeChat in mid-December, Yicai reported. This system will allow users to link their bank cards to their WeChat accounts, enabling them to deposit money through TenPay, Tencant’s payment system.

After depositing money, users will then be able to manage their funds directly through the WeChat software, make purchases at supported retailers and automatically recharge their mobile plans via the deposits in their accounts.

The savings platform compliments WeChat’s already-existing online payment capabilities and is similar to other e-wallet services such as Paypal.

Chinese internet mainstays Biadu and Alibaba also have financial service platforms, respectively named Baifa and Yuebao, but neither command the 300 million active users that WeChat already enjoys.

Yi Huan Huan, deputy director of Beijing firm Hongyuan Securities, told Yicai reporters that WeChat’s large user base would help Tencant vie against its competitors to make inroads into the financial service market.

“Tencent’s advantage is the sheer number of WeChat users that currently exist,” Yi said. “Baidu’s services receive a lot of traffic, and Alibaba already has the advantage of a large capital flow.

“But Tencent has the social users in the mobile market… In the short term, WeChat’s financial services will not have a tremendous impact on [the competition], but in the long run, the potential for growth is huge.”

WeChat’s e-commerce potential already made headlines this year after the chat service generated about HK$ 673 million in online sales on Single’s Day, one of China’s biggest internet shopping festivals on November 11.

Tencent has aggressively expanded WeChat’s capabilities over the past year, and in the words of Poshu Yeung, vice-president of Tencent’s international business group, the goal of the company has been to transform WeChat “beyond a simple chatting app and enrich the user experience by becoming a truly mobile social platform.”

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